Health

Don’t Take The Measles Vaccine For Granted — It’s Saved Millions

by Maya Kachroo-Levine

February 13, 2018
Image via Pixnio.

THE GOOD NEWS:

The measles vaccine has saved more than 20 million lives since 2000.
 

Most people take the measles vaccine for granted. The MMR — measles, mumps, and rubella — shot is given when we’re kids. As a child, I specifically remember talking to my parents about MMR because I remarked that “Rubella” would be a nice name for my future child. While in the U.S. this vaccination is usually just a matter of a few tears at the doctor’s office, and maybe an afternoon with a sore arm, it’s a bigger deal to the global community. Measles is a serious killer. There were 550,000 measles deaths in 2000 alone.

Thanks to the measles vaccine, that number has decreased significantly. In 2016, there were 90,000 measles deaths worldwide. The CDC estimates if we had not had a vaccination program in place, we would have lost 1.5 million lives to measles in 2016.  

Health on a global scale is in the national interest, though that’s not always readily apparent. We rarely see measles in our own backyard. And even when we do, like in the case of the 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak in California, the patients are able to be treated promptly. But what if the 110 patients affected by the Disneyland outbreak hadn’t had access to vaccinations and proper medical treatment? Needless to say, if the number of deaths has decreased from 550,000 to 90,000 in 16 years, there’s hope for continued vaccination success over the next 16 years.

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